A slow cooker is a kitchen appliance that allows people to cook a meal at a low temperature, which can take anywhere from eight to ten hours. How a slow cooker works is all of the ingredients for the meal are placed in the slow cooker pot and then the slow cooker is turned on. Different foods require different cooking temperatures, so the slow cooker will need to be adjusted accordingly. Once the slow cooker has been turned on, the food can be left alone to cook.
With slow cookers, there are two different types of slow cookers, which are mechanical and programmable. The mechanical slow cookers come with a knob that must be adjusted to set the cooking temperature. With the mechanical models, somebody must be around to turn the slow cooker off or to keep warm once the food is done cooking. Programmable slow cookers are a digital slow cooker that offers a variety of programming options.
The most basic programmable slow cookers allow users to set the cooking time and once the slow cooker is done cooking, it automatically switches over to the keep warm setting. Other programmable slow cookers allow users to set what time they want the slow cooker to start cooking. While programmable ones are preferred over mechanical ones attention must be paid to the programmable features to ensure the slow cookers has the features that are needed.
Like all other products available, there are certain features that every slow cooker should come with. Before going out and purchasing a slow cooker it is important to learn what those features are. This will not only save you money, it will also save you the time and hassle of returning a slow cooker that doesn’t work, as you need it too.
Must Have Features:
1. Size of Insert
Every slow cooker will come with an insert, but the size can vary. When purchasing a slow cooker the family size needs to be taken into consideration to ensure the right one is bought. In order to safely cook food the slow cooker cannot be more than two-thirds full, but it also must be at least halfway full. Large families should go with a 6-Quart while couples, small families or single people should go with a 4-Quart.
2. Shape of insert
The shape of the slow cooker insert is also important because it allows certain foods to be cooked. Consumers planning to cook cuts of meat more than soups should purchase an oval shaped slow cooker, while the round ones are great for soups, chili, and anything else aside from meat. Although the round ones can handle meat it just has to be cut a bit different.
3. Style of insert
Different slow cookers come with different types of inserts, but they all cook the same. Majority of slow cookers come with a stoneware insert that is removable, but they are heavy. Some inserts can be used in the oven, on the stovetop, and in the fridge. Other slow cookers use stainless steel or aluminum versus the stoneware insert. Others have a non-stick coating, but these need to be handled with care so as not to damage the non-stick.
4. Easy to cleanup
Not all slow cookers will be easy to clean up, but majority of them are. If using the dishwasher to clean dishes is a high priority ensure the stoneware and lid are 100% dishwasher safe. Removable inserts are the best ones because they come out to be easily cleaned.
5. Food safety concerns
One thing that needs to be avoided is extended heat-up and cool-down times because of food safety. If the slow cooker takes too long to get to a safe cooking temperature bacteria can breed in the food and cause consumers to get sick. Pay attention to reviews to see if long warm up periods are required before the food starts to cook. Consumers can also cook the meal on high for the first hour to help avoid this.
Knowing the specific features to look for on slow cookers is nice because it gives you a general idea of what to look for, but knowing the most popular brands available is also helpful. Learning about the popular brands is helpful because it teaches consumers about what features are in demand, but can also help narrow down the choices. The most popular brands of slow cookers generally have the must have features, but they also feature a variety of extras. Not to mention that the most popular slow cookers are often made by the companies that people know and trust.
1. Hamilton Beach
This is one of the most well known makers of slow cookers. Hamilton Beach makes a variety of slow cookers that come with stoneware inserts. They also make slow cookers in a variety of sizes. They even have a slow cooker that comes with three different sized stoneware inserts with one base.
This another popular name in slow cookers, partly because it was the first slow cooker ever made. This brand of slow cookers comes in a variety of sizes, but you can also find the mechanical and programmable models. Crock-Pot is also a brand that consumers know and trust. Crock-Pot also makes a model with a stainless steel insert for those that do not want the stoneware insert for whatever reason.
Check out the 10 Best Slow Cookers on the market right now:
#1. Breville BPR600XL Fast-Slow Cooker
- The Breville BPR600XL 6-Quart Pressure Cooker & Slow Cooker keeps pace with you
- One appliance that does both; tender meat in minutes using pressure, or flavor layering up to 8-hours when slow cooking
- Safety locking lid, safety valve and pressure release button
- Saut, sear, slow cook, pressure cook, pressure steam, and keep warm with countdown timer
- Stainless steel construction with 3-way safety system
Pros: top quality, saves a lot of room in a cupboard, lighter weight than most slow cookers, extremely safe, very detailed instructions with good recipes, simple to operate, cooks exceedingly well, the sear function is great for browning meat or veggies to add more complexity in flavor, simple to clean …
Cons: wish it had more flexibility for slow cooking times …
#2. Cuisinart MSC-800 Cook Central 4-in-1 Multi-Cooker, 7 quart
- The Cuisinart Cook Central does it all!
- Brown ingredients right in the unit – no stovetop required
- you can switch to Slow Cook or Roast with the touch of a button for effortless combination cooking
- Preset function buttons with time and temperature controls make it simple to Slow Cook, Roast, Brown/Saute or Steam – or combination cook!
- This big multicooker makes operation easy, and lets you prepare meals ahead of time so they’re ready when you are!
Pros: a sleek addition to your kitchen appliances in looks and usefulness, would be nice to dim the light at night, simple operation, love 3 in 1 cooker, browning feature is a real time or pot saver, can brown then immediately go to the slow cooker option, love that it shuts down to warm when done, recommend to anyone interested in cooking a one pot dish …
Cons: a little smaller than I expected …
#3. Oster CKSTSCMC6-SHP One Pot Multi-Cooker
- The Oster One Pot Multi-Cooker does it all
- This versatile countertop appliance performs a variety of different cooking functions to steam, bake, roast, brown & sauté and slow cook foods to perfection
- This multi-cooker is the only pot you need to prepare meals every day of the week
- Whether it is a flavorful dinner roast or a rich, decadent cake, the Oster One Pot Multi-Cooker cooks it 30% faster than conventional ovens using a Vertical Heat Diffusing System designed to uniformly heat
- You get consistent results and fast, even, trouble-free cooking with any dish you prepare
- Convenient, digital pre-programmed settings and adjustable time and temperature controls provides flexibility for cooking to your needs
- Countdown timer displays how much cooking time is left so you know exactly when dinner will be ready
- It’s generously-sized, removable aluminum pot is oven-safe
- Delay timer keeps food warm once cooking has finished
- Tempered glass lid is also dishwasher safe
- Chrome roast rack included
Pros: great looking appliance and looks nice on the counter-top, excellent all-in-one cooker will save room in a very small kitchen, the removable pot inside is aluminum and looks high quality, the size is very nice, easy to use, settings for the various functions, this one cooks as a slow cooker should keeps the food warm till you get home …
Cons: wish there were more recipes in the user guide …
#4. Crock-Pot Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker SCVT650-PS, 6.5-Quart
- The Crock-Pot SCVT650-PS Programmable Slow Cooker brings modern style to any kitchen with its touchscreen control panel, seamless polished stainless steel exterior and silicone-wrapped handles
- The ultimate in slow cooker convenience and style
- set your cook time from 30 minutes to 20 hours
- The digital timer will countdown the minutes and automatically switch the cooker to warm when cook time is up, keeping track of how long the unit has been in warm mode as well
- Removable, dishwasher-safe stoneware and glass lid double as a serving dish and make clean up a snap
Pros: nice looking on buffet table, simple to use electronic controls, food cooks perfect and not greasy, takes less time to cook, great size for large chickens or chili and roasts, automatically keeps food warm when done cooking is a plus, the timer is an excellent addition to the crock pot …
Cons: cooks without any issues but too big for a regular day, the lid and handle is flimsily …
#5. KitchenAid KSC6223SS 6-Qt. Slow Cooker with Standard Lid
- The KitchenAid 6-Quart Slow Cooker with solid glass lid has the capacity for everyday meals or entertaining
- With the 24-hour programmability on the digital display, it’s easy to start the slow cooker when you leave for work and return to a warm, delicious meal
- And if you’re running late, the slow cooker automatically goes into keep warm mode for up to four hours after the set cook time elapses
Pros: material is well constructed, very easy to use, no stickers to come off the front of the unit when washing, the lid fits decently, love that it has 3 heat settings, versatile temperature settings are a real plus, the temperatures respond accurately to the settings …
Cons: heavy, outside gets pretty hot so users should be very careful in moving the cooker …
#6. Frigidaire Professional Stainless 7-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker
- An attractive appliance built for performance and durability, the Frigidaire Professional™ 7 Quart Slow Cooker will get great results in the kitchen and streamline your cooking routine
- The clever seven-quart capacity design makes the most of counter space with a unique shape that provides a large cooking area, and a style that looks great in the kitchen
- From big meals to small servings, the Frigidaire Professional™ Slow Cooker provides maximum cooking flexibility
- An easy-to-use timer and six preset Pro-Select™ One-Touch Options on the display eliminate guesswork with any slow cooker recipe
- The bright Pro-Select™ LED Display is large and easy to see in dark or bright lighting
- Like having your favorite meals on speed dial! Frigidaire Professional™ built in six preset Pro-Select™ One-Touch Options to make slow cooking even simpler
- Choose from buffet, soup, low, medium, high or warm with one quick touch
- Completely customizable to your cooking needs, just select the cooking option, program the time, then choose the Auto Keep-Warm control to hold the temperature up to three hours until you’re ready to serve the meal
- Stylish Stainless-Steel Exterior contributes to a durable and great-looking design
- Easy-View Glass Lid shows you the progress of what’s cooking
- Ergonomic-Designed Die Cast Handles help easily transport the cooker around the kitchen or on-the-go
Pros: great style, the oval style takes up less room on a counter, excellent quality, the fact that the max timer setting is 12 hours, the extra quart makes a big difference when you’re cooking a stew for everyone, large enough for some major dinners, recommend it for those with bigger families, recommend to anyone who wants to have a serious crock pot …
Cons: it does not have the locking handles …
#7. Hamilton Beach 33967 Set ‘n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker
- Three choices for easy, automatic cooking: program mode, probe mode, and manual mode
- Probe mode is perfect for cooking large cuts of meat or for recipes that require food to reach a certain temperature
- The thermometer probe reads the actual temperature of food as it cooks; the temperature is displayed on the slow cooker control panel
- Travel-friendly design secures contents en route to parties, potlucks, family gatherings and tailgating
- The lid securely seals in place with sturdy wire clips on each handle. Convenient serving spoon clips onto lid for easy access
- 6 quart removable stoneware crock fits a 6 lb. chicken or a 4 lb. roast
- Wraparound, even heat cooks food evenly and consistently
- Full-grip handles make carrying heavy meals easier
- Power interrupt protection keeps slow cooker on during a brief power outage
Pros: oval shapes allows you to cook larger cuts of meat and bigger meals, love that you can adjust the temp or use a probe, it cooks your food so moist and delicious, wonderful meals each time, saves a lot of cooking time and does a fine job, the lid locks for travel or great for parties, like the convenience of setting it and forgetting it …
Cons: no issue with it …
#8. Crock-Pot SCCPNFL600-SS Cook and Carry Slow Cooker, 6-Quart
- Personalize your tailgate parties and game day celebrations with a Crock-Pot Slow Cooker designed with your team’s logo
- Serve up game day food with pride and show support for the Seahawks
- This portable Crock-Pot Cook & Carry Manual Slow Cooker is made for tailgates and get-togethers anywhere the game is going on
- Get the party started with fan favorites like pulled pork, teriyaki chicken wings, nacho cheese dip, and more
- Manual high, low, and warm settings make it easy to cook and serve a wide range of winning dishes while cheering your team on to victory
- The portable Crock-Pot Cook & Carry Slow Cooker features a travel-friendly locking lid to prevent spills during transport, and its removable 6-quart oval stoneware and glass lid clean easily in the dishwasher
- Designed with the official team logo, it’s a must-have slow cooker for any loyal football fan. Go Seattle!
Pros: good price, big crock-pot, lightweight, beautiful and convenient, perfect for home and the tailgate, has 3 stages of heating, the lid can be locked in place and seals perfectly, great for parties, perfect for carrying it places, cleans up easily …
Cons: none …
#9. Wonderbag Non-Electric Portable Slow Cooker with Recipe Cookbook
- To slow cook, simply bring food to a boil on a stove, let simmer (5 minutes for rice and grains, 15 minutes for root vegetables, meat or presoaked beans), then put the pot with lid into your Wonderbag, close tightly, and slow cook to perfection up to 12 hours
- Because it is not on direct heat, it will never overcook or burn
- Wonderbag is perfect for bringing delicious home cooked meals to potlucks, dinner parties, tailgating, or camping
- It’s perfect for holidays when stove and counter space are at a premium
- Powerless is powerful. Wonderbag isn’t just a powerless cooker; it’s an instrument for change
- 3 billion women still cook over wood fires, a major source of health, environmental and socio-economic issues
- By drastically reducing time spent cooking, the Wonderbag empowers women across Africa to participate in more activities outside of the home enhancing their quality of life
- Using the Wonderbag helps save water, reduces the carbon footprint, minimizes deforestation, smoke inhalation diseases and deaths.
- One Wonderbag per year saves 1.7 trees, 1000 liters of water and 1,248 hours of time not spent collecting firewood
- For every Wonderbag purchased in the US, one is donated to a family in need in Africa
Pros: great product with a good story, you can cook anything in this Wonderbag, great for summer cooking, it work brilliantly with cooking, the bag keeps your food warm for up to 12 hours, the food is delicious when slow cooked, no more electric slow-cooker, save you electricity, easy to transport, environmentally friendly …
Cons: it is huge, need a bit of shelf space to keep it when not in use …
#10. Hot Logic Mini with 6 Cup Pyrex Included
- Revolutionizing the hot meal experience! The patented Hot Logic Mini is a personal portable oven great for the office, the job site, the campsite or anywhere you have an outlet
- Now you can enjoy fresh-cooked hot meals, reheated meals or perfectly cooked prepackaged meals anywhere
- The Hot Logic Mini slowly and evenly heats your meal to preserve moisture and enhance flavor
- No super-hot overcooked edges, no frozen centers and no worries about sharing a dirty microwave
Pros: makes a superb lunch, small enough to fit in any suitcase, very portable, fits the hot plate, heats anything from any temperature to a perfect temperature for eating, food is steaming and very moist, easy to clean, great for people who work in the cold or office …
Cons: a little heavy, love it more if it had USB charger instead of AC plug …